Emerging Issues on Tropane Alkaloid Contamination of Food in Europe

De nijs, Monique; Crews, Colin; Dorgelo, Folke; Macdonald, Susan; Mulder, Patrick P.J.


The occurrence of tropane alkaloids (TAs), toxic plant metabolites, in food in Europe was studied to identify those TAs in food most relevant for human health. Information was extracted from the literature and the 2016 study from the European Food Safety Authority. Calystegines were identified as being inherent TAs in foods common in Europe, such as Solanum tuberosum (potato), S. melongena (eggplant, aubergine), Capsicum annuum (bell pepper) and Brassica oleracea (broccoli, Brussels sprouts). In addition, some low-molecular-weight tropanes and Convolvulaceae-type TAs were found inherent to bell pepper. On the other hand, atropine, scopolamine, convolvine, pseudotropine and tropine were identified as emerging TAs resulting from the presence of associated weeds in food. The most relevant food products in this respect are unprocessed and processed cereal-based foods for infants, young children or adults, dry (herbal) teas and canned or frozen vegetables. Overall, the occurrence data on both inherent as well as on associated TAs in foods are still scarce, highlighting the need for monitoring data. It also indicates the urge for food safety authorities to work with farmers, plant breeders and food business operators to prevent the spreading of invasive weeds and to increase awareness.